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Craig Kerstiens

Marketing definitions for developers

Marketing often feels like a dirty-icky thing to many developers. Well until you feel like you have a great product, but no one using it then you have to get a crash course in all of that. And while I might cover some of the actual basics in the future, just knowing what marketing people actually mean when they’re talking can be a huge jump start. Here’s a guide that distills many of the acronyms and terms down to what they actually mean in reality.

SEO - Search engine optimization. There’s two sides to this, one where you’re attempting to game the system known known as black hat. The other is simply creating good content.

Tip: Now, unlike several years ago social sharing helps impact this.

SEM - Search engine marketing. The short of this is adwords, but broadly it’s any search engine.

Tip: Be wary here, you can spend a lot of money quickly. Properly managing it takes time and effort otherwise you’re wasting money.

Display ads - Banner ads on websites. There’s a few common form factors in this world, so you’ll create a few then reuse them across lots of properties.

Tip: Results may vary here, there are some hidden gems when advertising on various long tail sites.

Retargeting - This is where you’re serving an ad (most commonly display) to someone that’s previously visited your site. The process happens due to you ‘pixeling’ them, and a cookie being set so the ad server knows they’ve seen you.

Tip: Generally good bang for the buck here, but you still need initial visitors to even retarget to.

Funnel - The process of someone going from finding you to paying to paying more. Generally a process will look something like: Anonymous visitor by referral, sign ups, low money bucket, big money bucket.

Top of the funnel - Hopefully clear from the previous one, top of the funnel would be the max of users you reach out to or get to your site, usually down to getting them to sign up.

Bottom of the funnel - This is usually going from time you have a user to customer and then growing that customer via cross-selling and upselling.

Drip marketing - This is the process of gradually sending emails/notifications to your customers to get them to engage and learn about the product. Think of it as a welcome email on day 1, an intro on day 3, and on day 5 a different email based on what they’ve done so far. Really good drip marketing will create a different email for the user based on what they have or haven’t done.

Attribution (last/first/multi) - Attribution relates to how you got the user or customer (via web referral). There’s a few different ways of looking at this, last touch is the last website they visited before signing up, first touch is the first referral they were sent from, and multi touch (often more complicated to put in place) attributes something to all referrals they’ve come from.

AR - Analyst relations. Analysts cover particular products or areas in an industry, write reports, and often consult with large enterprises when making buying decisions. Analyst relations or AR is the common term for interacting with them, you can learn more here

PR - Public relations. This is generally the press/media side. It often involves launches, press releases, pitching media etc. You can read more of a guide on it here

Briefing - This is normally with an analyst or press, and is typically a quick 30 minute call occasionally a demo of an upcoming launch.Usually

Inquiry - This refers more to the analyst side. Where a briefing is often more one sided for you to pitch/update them on what you’ve been doing, an inquiry is more a back and forth where you can ask what they’re seeing in the market and for input on direction.

Campaign - A collection of activities that go on around a certain thing focused on specific keywords or theme. This can be as little as a search engine marketing campaign which is the most common, or much larger and coordinated with billboards, webinars, etc.

Lead Gen - The sales funnel usually goes from just getting an email, to talking to them, to getting them to try a demo or run a POC, to eventually buying. Lead gen is the activity of just getting that initial contact so you can then further engage with them. In practice this can often involve giving something away, like a t-shirt in exchange for an email.


While this doesn’t cover every marketing activity under the sun, hopefully it’s a good primer on things you may have heard but been confused by. If there’s important ones I’ve missed please feel free to let me know @craigkerstiens